Thursday, August 27, 2009

Autism: Public Meltdown

I want to tell you about something that happened in the midst of moving to our new place. We loaded up everyones vehicles for our first trip. The volunteers were ready to go. Denver and I stopped at a gas station for something to drink and I offered Denver the chance to pick a donut. He felt pretty good about that and started looking over what they had to offer.

Then frustration set in. He didn't feel that he could make a choice. He felt overwhelmed. No doubt, the moving and all the extra activity around him helped to make that happen. I tried to make suggestions and even tried to just pick something for him. No, that wouldn't do. He just wanted to leave and started to get rather loud about that. So, with plenty of witnesses already, I paid for my drink and we went outside.

I opened the van and turned to wait for Denver to get in. He stood by the front of the vehicle crying. Now he wanted to go in and make a choice. By this time, I knew the volunteers had to be there, waiting for us to come open the door. I informed Denver that he would have to wait for the return trip now to make a decision because now it was too late. WHAMMO! Instant meltdown. He flailed, punching and kicking the side of the van and sank his teeth into his arm.

This required fast action on my part. I grabbed him up, taking assault myself, and put him into the seat of the van. I held his arms and legs down as best I could while endeavoring to avoid teeth and headbutting. His screaming, I'm sure could be heard two blocks away.

Well, in walks Joe Public, who thinks he knows what's going on, but doesn't. This guy comes up from behind me and sticks a spiderman toy into the midst of the fire. I took this as an outright intrusion. I turned to the man as best I could and said NO, I'm sorry but that won't help. I tried to explain that he just needed to calm down. Does the guy take the hint? NO. He tells me when a kid wants something that bad, I should just give it to him.

I told him he had no idea what was going on, that my son was having an autistic meltdown and he proceeded to argue. So I ordered him to get away from us. I even had to say it more than once. He did, but he called the police. Fortunately for me, a very kind lady, who witnessed the entire ordeal stepped in and spoke with the police officer as a witness.

I want to mention that the sight of the officer also scared my son. He thought Daddy was going to be taken away from him. I spoke with the officer and had Denver show his arm where he bit himself almost to the point of blood. The officer took down my information, listened intently, then said he was going to talk to the ones who made the call. That's when he said, "You can go".

Denver did get his donut, just as promised to him in the beginning. Too bad that man couldn't have listened. He only risked himself. In the midst of such a meltdown, spiderman doesn't mean jack. He risked having it thrown at him or getting bit. This is why public education and understanding are so important. Don't we get enough public embarrassment with a meltdown of an autistic child? The only thing we can do, is let it pass while preventing our kids from savagely hurting themselves. Can you imagine what it would look like if we didn't?


aspiemom said...

People do not understand.

((((Dave and Denver))))

I'm sorry.

Diamond_Wizard said...

Does the words "Mind your own business!" mean anything to some people. The same results of meltdown can happen with regular children--more or less!